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Roundtable: Military Suicide, Women In Combat, Dogs & PTSD, City Hall Transitions

Evening Edition

Above: Tony Perry, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, talks to KPBS about the finding that dogs deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with American troops are developing their own forms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Aired 11/30/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS:

Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

Beth Ford Roth, KPBS News

Katie Orr, KPBS News

Scott Lewis, VoiceofSanDiego

Transcript

Is Attempted Suicide a Crime? - This week a military court in Washington, D.C., heard the appeal of Marine Private Lazzaric Caldwell, convicted in 2010 of “self-injury” when he slit his wrists in Okinawa.

The appeal revolves around whether commanders should have the authority to court-martial troops who attempt to commit suicide. This issue resonates in San Diego as the number of suicides among serving and returning troops from Camp Pendleton continues to rise in spite of efforts by command to deal with the problem

At least one appeals court judge, Walter T. Cox III, wasn't convinced the attempt should be criminalized, according to the Associated Press. During oral arguments, Judge Cos observed that "if suicide is indeed the worst enemy the Armed Forces has in 2012 - in terms of killing soldiers, sailors, airman and Marines - then why should we criminalize it when a guy fails? Seems to me like you’re trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.”

Other judges expressed discomfort with the issues raised by Caldwell's trial and with the idea of creating a rule to judge whether or not someone wanted to die.

American Women in Combat? - This week the ACLU of Northern California filed a lawsuit over the Pentagon policy that bans women from combat.

The plaintiffs say that exclusion from combat bars women from the same kind of promotions and awards received by their male counterparts. The four women in the complaint say that they did fight on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that the Department of Defense's formal policy keeps them from advancement.

Combat Dogs Suffer From PTSD - The military is finding that dogs deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with American troops are developing their own forms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dog handlers at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where combat dogs are trained and treated, have found that dogs experience combat just like humans. They can be essentially “broken” so they can’t work.

They may require conditioning, re-training and even medication, like Xanex

Transitions At City Hall - It's a new day downtown. There’s a new mayor on the civic center block, and he's got a new staff.

There are two new council members, Mark Kersey, District 5, and Scott Sherman, District 7. There will be a new council president, possibly Todd Gloria, and eventually another new council member because of Tony Young's resignation.

Marti Emerald now presides over a new council district. The question is, how will she and her staff fit into the rabbit warren that is city hall?

And there was --briefly -- a new transparency guru, and now there may not be.

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